REVIEW: American Airlines Transcontinental Business Class (A321) New York JFK to Los Angeles

Paying for a business class seat on a flight that is technically a domestic flight, you would expect some extra legroom, priority boarding and a few additional amenities.

Instead, on the 6 hours and 20-minute flights between New York JFK and Los Angeles, airlines including Delta, American Airlines, Jet Blue and United are pulling out all the stops to attract travellers, offering everything from lie-flat seats to premium dining.

I recently flew to Los Angeles from New York JFK and experienced the Transcontinental Business Class on-board American Airlines. Here is my review of the experience.

Check in & Security

I arrived at JFK airport for 8am which left me with plenty of spare time until my flight at 12pm. American Airlines is based in terminal 8 at New York JFK along with six other airlines. I decided to use the self-service machines to check in as they were the first things I saw when I walked into the terminal. The self-service kiosks are simple to use as you are given onscreen instructions to follow which take you through each step. After attaching the tags to my bags to be checked in, I walked to the self-service kiosk where I handed my bags over to the customer service agent who weighed my bags and sent them down the conveyer belt.

I then proceeded to security where I was disappointed not to see a priority security lane for passengers who were eligible for the privilege. The privilege is advertised by American Airlines as one of the services offered to customers as part of the business class service. I may have missed the signs walking towards security but I was not directed on two occasions by customer service to a priority lane so I assumed that this service was not offered. As it was midday, the queues for security were quite long and it was a 20-minute wait approximately. Had there been a priority security lane, I am sure I would have gotten through security a lot quicker.

Lounge

As part of the business class package, access to the Flagship Lounge is included. The lounge is a short walk from security and can be accessed by the stairs or lift.

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American Airlines Flagship Lounge

The lounge is expansive and has a variety of seating choices available including workstations and a quiet room. Travellers can take a seat and enjoy the dining table service on offer or you can take a selection of food from the buffet available. If you would like to read more about the Flagship Lounge, my review can be read here.

Boarding

The plane used for this flight was one of the four-class Airbus A321s featuring first, business, main cabin extra and the main cabin. The plane has 102 seats in total; 10 in first, 20 in business, 36 in main cabin extra and 36 in the main cabin. The Airbus A321 operates all American Airlines flights between JFK and LAX and also JFK and SFO.

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Airbus A321

Boarding began at 11:30am with the flight due to depart at 12pm.

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Boarding Groups

Boarding was performed in groups and I was part of group two. Due to being boarded in groups there was no need for the priority lane as passengers only boarded when their group was called. I was welcomed aboard by the lovely flight crew and took my seat ready to take off.

Cabin & Seat

Boarding the narrow-body A321 is always from the L1 door which meant I had to walk through the first class cabin, which is configured in the 1-1 configuration featuring lie-flat seats to access the business class cabin.

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Seat 10F

Business class is configured in the 2-2 configuration featuring lie-flat seats which offer 58 inches of pitch and are 19 inches wide. Each business class seat was angled away from the center and when your seat was slightly reclined, you could not see the person next to you. A small frosted glass window was placed in between the seats but this offered little privacy.

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Pillow and Blanket provided for the flight

On each seat was a pillow and blanket for the flight. I do not sleep well on flights so I did not make use of these amenities.

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Storage Space, Water, Amenity Kit & Power Outlets

There was some storage space situated to the right of the seat where a bottle of Dasani water and the amenity kit was kept before take off. Power outlets and the headphone jack were also located in this area. On the left side of the seat was a side pocket, a touchscreen controller for the entertainment system and a tray table.

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Touchscreen Controller

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Tray Table

During take-off and landing, the 15.4-inch fixed screen entertainment system could be used and it also had a shelf and a footstool just below. The keypad on the left side of the seat is used to recline the seat and in first and business class, the seat reclined a full 180 degrees to turn into a lie-flat bed.

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15.4 Inch Entertainment System

Amenities

Shortly after take off a flight attendant handed out Bose noise cancelling headphones for us to use with the entertainment system.

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Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones

The movies provided were varied with a few new film choices to choose from as well as other movies from over the years. Passengers could also watch episodes of their favourite TV show. During the flight, I watched Baby Driver, Dark Towers and War for the Planet of Apes.

The headphones were collected about 45 minutes before we were due to land which could be very annoying if you were in the middle of a film but luckily my film had just finished.

An amenity kit by Cole Haan was also provided and this included a toothbrush, toothpaste, a pair of socks, an eye mask and a refreshing travel kit by C.O. Bigelow.

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Amenity Kit By Cole Haan

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Amenity Kit By Cole Haan

Wi-Fi was available on the flight but an additional cost had to be paid for this.

Food & Beverages

Immediately after getting seated and while the plane taxied to the runway, we were offered a drink of either champagne or juice.

Shortly after departure the flight attendant came and asked me what I wanted to drink. A few minutes later the flight attendant came back with my drink and also a bowl of nuts. Instead of the flight attendants pushing a trolley and providing meals, they asked us individually and returned with our meals.

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Starter

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Main

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Dessert 

American Airlines allows passengers to pre-order their meals up to 24 hours before departure and I decided my food choices at the time of booking the flight. Allowing customers to preorder their meal allows the airline to cut down on wasted food as the meal is made to order. The flight attendant confirmed that my preordered meal was correct, went away to prepare my meal before returning shortly after. Sadly I could not remember the names of my food choices and I did not get a chance to take a picture of the menu. The food service lasted approximately 1 hour and the flight attendants were very attentive and polite.

As I begin to travel in different classes on different airlines, I will be better able to judge the food provided. On this flight, the food was presented well, tasted great and I thoroughly enjoyed the three-course meal provided.

After the hourlong food service, snacks were placed at the front of the cabin but I did not notice this until near the end of the flight.

Arrival

We arrived at Los Angeles International 50 minutes earlier than scheduled. Due to being ahead of schedule, we sat on the tarmac for 35 minutes before taxiing to gate 53B and then disembarking. My checked bags were one of the first to come off as first and business class passengers’ bags are tagged priority and are unloaded first.


Positives

  • Very expansive and modern lounge
  • Comfortable seat
  • Meals can be pre-ordered
  • Bose noise cancelling headphones

Negatives

  • I did not see a priority security lane in the airport
  • The seat does not offer a lot of privacy

Final Say

This flight was a great flight to experience my first ever business class flight and I enjoyed the whole experience. The Flagship Lounge is very modern and has the services and amenities needed for before the flight. The onboard experience was as expected, the flight attendants were polite and available when you needed them, the entertainment was sufficient for the duration of the flight and the Bose noise cancelling headphones ensured I could watch the entertainment with crisp audio. The meal was enjoyable and the seat was incredibly comfortable. To top all of this off, we arrived 50 minutes early. Given my positive experience, I would not hesitate to fly business class again with American Airlines.